08 Aug

Black Olive Soup

By Jeanne Jones,

  • Serves 61 jar (4 1/2 ounces) pitted kalamata olives, drained
  • 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 medium-size baking potatoes, peeled and cooked (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • Lemon zest for garnish, optional

COMBINE the olives, clam juice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then pour the mixture into a blender and puree.

ADD potato pulp and pepper, and blend until completely smooth. Pour mixture through a strainer back into the pan. Stir in the lemon zest and heat to the desired temperature.

PLACE half of a diced tomato in the bottom of each of 6 bowls. Pour 2/3 cup of the soup over the tomato in each bowl. Garnish with lemon zest if desired.

Per serving: 139 calories, 11g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 875mg sodium, 13g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 1g fiber.

Fresh Finds | Currants

Currants, the tiny red, white or black berries related to gooseberries, star in the famous French preserves called Bar-le-Duc, named for the city in which they’re made. Specially trained women (called “epepineuses” — “seed extractors”) extract each pea-sized berry’s three to 12 tiny seeds, each the size of a grain of mustard, with goose quills.

Buying tips

You’ll usually see red or white (sometimes called “golden”) currants; black currants are rarer. All have flavors that range from tart to sweet, slightly lemony and astringent, depending on how ripe the berries were when plucked and the type of bush they’re from.

Storing tips

Refrigerate currants unwashed, and wash them well just before using. Use them within a week.

Cooking suggestions

Unless your grandmother taught you how to wield a goose quill, you’ll probably use currants in jellies. The lightly cooked, slightly crushed fruit releases its juices, so the seeds don’t matter. Black currants sometimes are used in juices or in pies and other desserts. They’re also superb in an easy pan sauce for roasted or sauteed duck or chicken. Add them to the pan juices (along with a little cassis if you have it) and cook down to a sauce; finish with butter.

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